VENTURA COUNTY Calif.A consortium of cultural and environmental organizations created scholarships and fellowships today that total $100,000 to support students dedicated to the preservation of Southern California’s signature river. The Utom Conservation Fund Scholarship and Fellowship was announced on Earth Day. It will be awarded to high school seniors and undergraduate students who are committed to preserving and researching the cultural and ecological functions of the Utom watershed.
Utom, or Phantom River was named by Chumash people because water flow can change like a ghost. The Santa Clara River, which runs 116 miles long, is also known as the Angeles National Forest. It flows from northern Los Angeles County to Oxnard in Ventura County. It is the largest Southern California watershed and is in a natural state. It also has a lot of biodiversity. Utom is a vital resource for California red-legged Frogs, Unarmored Threespine Sticklebacks, and more than 110 special status plants and animals.
Peter Galvin, cofounder of the Center for Biological Diversity and director of programs, stated that the Utom River is a California treasure and that we want to inspire the next generation. These scholarships are for students who share our passion to protect a precious, vulnerable river that benefits wildlife and local communities.
Wishtoyo Chumash Foundation founder Mati Waiya said that after nearly three decades of Wishtoyos work to preserve and protect the cultural integrity and watershed of Utom, for the human communities, wildlife and the river itself, we are excited about supporting the next generation water protectors from this region. These scholars should be from Utoms underserved communities and the First Peoples of these unceded homelands. This includes federally unrecognized tribes.
The Center, Wishtoyo Chumash Foundation Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, and the California Native Plant Society manage the scholarship and fellowship funds. There are two types of funds. Both have a June 20, 2020 deadline.
25 scholarships of $2,000 each will be awarded to incoming high school seniors as well as undergraduate students at junior colleges and four-year universities. Applicants must be passionate about protecting the environment, and the Utom river.
These fellowships are available to graduate students who are pursuing a master’s or doctorate in environmental science and are planning on a research project that is specific to the Utom rivershed. Each scholarship will be worth $12,500 and will be awarded to four graduate students.
Tribal members, including those from non-recognized tribals, will receive special consideration
Native Americans were the original stewards of these lands. Therefore, our tribe is proud of funding this scholarship and inspiring the next generation of environmentalists. Kenneth Kahn is the tribal chairman for Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. We believe it is important to encourage students and to educate them about the Utom River and its rich Chumash heritage.
To protect this unique watershed, the Utom Conservation Fund was created with settlement money from litigation. Visit UtomRiverConservation.orgFor more information on the scholarship process and how to apply, click here